When a company that questions everything needed a machine that didn’t need questioning.
Beaumont Technologies, based out of Erie, PA, is a pioneer and world leader of in-mold rheological control technologies for plastics injection molding. They earned their reputation by challenging accepted industry standards and questioning everything in plastic flow, mold design, and the injection molding process. When it came time to purchase a new machine, a company that relies on exactness, needed an injection molding machine they did not question.
So the Search Began
As a company that focuses on helping other companies develop new processes or refine processes to develop new products, Beaumont Technologies needs to stay ahead of the game with the equipment they use.
They knew they needed a machine they had confidence in; confidence in that the data they put into the control was the same as what came out of the machine. They also needed a machine with the ability to provide a wide variety of applications, due to the nature of their business.
John Beaumont, President and CEO of Beaumont Technologies and the American Injection Molding Institute stated that they looked at a number of different machines and started calling companies who owned the machines to get their take on real life experiences with them. He made sure to call companies that had a variety of different injection molding machines from the manufacturers they were looking into.
Once he was finished, one machine stood out of the bunch and clearly met his requirements. For the high-precision work with maximum control and reliability for some of the demanding applications that come through Beaumont Technologies, the Sodick brand machines from Plustech, Inc. could not be beat.
One of the things that had attracted Beaumont to the Sodick machine was the fact it did not use a reciprocating screw. Rather it had a stationary plastic screw having the sole purpose of providing consistent high quality melt to the 2nd stage injection unit.
In addition to looking for a machine that could deliver optimum performance, John also was very interested in the quality of service. “After talking to a number of different companies, all of them were very complimentary of Sodick Plustech’s service. None of them had anything negative to say,” John said.
The Machines Arrive
Beaumont Technologies first Sodick IMM arrived in February 2012. The LA60 was dedicated to their Therma-flo® process. Therma-flo® is the first industry method to map the injection moldability of plastic melts and was recently patented in late 2015. The horizontal injection molding machine, LA60 has a 25 mm screw diameter and 25 mm plunger diameter with a theoretical injection volume of 49 (1.64) cm_(oz). The 60-ton machine has a shot size of 1.6 oz.
Since the initial purchase Beaumont Technologies has purchased two more Sodick Injection Molding Machines from Plustech. A 100 ton horizontal, the LA100, and most recently a 40 ton vertical TR40EHV (Stationary table). The LA100 has a 32 mm screw diameter and 32 mm plunger diameter with a theoretical injection volume of 108 (3.62) cm_(oz), while the TR40EHV has a 22 mm screw diameter and 22 mm plunger diameter with a theoretical injection volume of 27 (.91) cm_(oz).
The two horizontal injection molding machines sit in a sub lab for primary research, special projects and to run Therma-flo®.
A Bit of History
John Beaumont started his career working in the injection molding industry prior to being recruited to help start the Plastics Engineering Technology program at Penn State Erie, the Behrend College. While at Penn State he discovered a phenomenon, previously unknown, then figured out how to manage it. The phenomenon was shear induced melt variations, which has been a root cause problem with every mold, every part, that has ever been molded. He later bought his first solutions patent from Penn State University and started Beaumont Technologies. This and subsequent improvements are now in tens of thousands of molds world wide and have begun to revolutionize the design and processing of injection molds. His efforts came to be known as MeltFlipper® technology and was a key element contributing to his recent induction into the Plastics Hall of Fame.
Beaumont’s first MeltFlipper patent was fairly broad and could be applied to nearly any fluid, including oil. As time went on, John and his company’s understanding of shear induced melt variations grew significantly. At the 2004 NPE (National Plastics Expo) John announced a refined variation of melt control, which was named as one of the top three new technologies introduced to the plastic industry. Today’s newer MeltFlipper variants are fairly diverse and provide unique methods of controlling the shrinkage, warpage and consistency of injection molded products.
He founded Beaumont Technologies, Inc. on April 17, 1998. Originally named Beaumont Runner Technologies, Inc., to commercialize a new plastic melt conditioning technology for the Injection Molding Industry. The name “MeltFlipper” has interesting origins worth mentioning. During a 1998 interview with the Erie Times-News, John commented on how his new invention flips the melt conditions within the runner system to solve filling imbalances. A week or so later, while attending his son’s basketball game, a friend in the stands who read the article asked, “How’s the melt flipper business?” The name stuck ever since and eventually became the registered trademark of the company’s flagship product.
Since its origin, the company has steadily grown and expanded its product and service offerings to include Injection molding simulation; product, tooling and process development; education & training; and specialized molding. The growing list of new products and services prompted a name change for Beaumont Technologies since it no longer only dealt with runner systems. As a result, in 2003, the company formally shortened its name to Beaumont Technologies, Inc.
In 2015, Beaumont Technologies patented the first material characterization method for evaluating the injection moldability of a plastic melt, the previously mentioned Therma-flo®. “Therma-flo and its accompanying software has given us an entirely new way to look at both polymer behavior and the injection molding process”, said Beaumont. “As a result we are discovering new things every day. Its very exciting stuff.”
Sodick Machines and Therma-flo®
The first two Sodick Injection Molding Machines that Beaumont purchased sit in a sub-lab and work primarily on Therma-flo®. John stated “I have a high level of confidence in the Sodick machines, these are our go to machines in tough applications and are often used to test the credibility of some of our other machines, and therefore they were the optimal choice for our Therma-flo® application.” Sometimes, when the team at Beaumont gets abnormal data when running a study they would rerun the study on the Sodick injection molding machines to confirm the data, and make sure it’s not the other machine doing something weird.
When Beaumont Technologies first purchased the Sodick machines they worked closely with Sodick to develop programs, modify controls and customize control features. These were then interfaced with Beaumont’s newly developed tooling data collection system and computer programs for displaying and predicting how polymers behave during injection molding.
John felt that what you put into the control is what you get with the Sodick machines after running them for a while, and that is one of the huge advantages the Sodick machines have to Beaumont Technologies.
”Thermaflo has us characterizing materials not only for molders but for numerous polymer suppliers, compounders and OEM’s,” said John. “As a result we have run virtually any material you can imagine, plus newer exotic materials under development by various OEMs. The Sodick Injection Molding Machine’s advanced plastification and injection system has been able to deal with everything that has been thrown our way.”
Beaumont Technologies will continue to question everything and test their boundaries. They are happy with their Sodick Injection Molding machines and will continue to use them as they are. As for what they come up with next, we will just have to wait and see, but this is one company that does not settle for standard.